Thousands of students across the region will get their A-level results today.
They are the first school leavers who will pay the higher rate of tuition fees if they go to university.
Applications for degree courses are down ten percent in the region, but universities expect many students will apply for places through clearing today.
It has been suggested that around 8% of exams will achieve an A* and just over one in four exams will score at least an A - the same as in 2011.
In a bid to tackle rising pass rates, Ofqual has told exam boards they will be asked to justify results that differ wildly from previous years.
It means that the proportion of students awarded top grades is unlikely to increase greatly from 2011 levels.
This year's students are already facing up to being the first to pay tuition fees of up to £9,000.